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Woman in Gold (2015) Reviewed By Jay

United States, 03 April 2014

 

Jay´s Review

If you've seen the documentary "The Rape of Europa" you are already familiar with this well-known portrait of the lovely Jewish woman by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. This new movie provides the back-story of how the painting was fought for by the woman's niece, long after WWII, as works of art confiscated by the Nazis were displayed in European museums.

With a screenplay by Alexi Kaye Campbell based on his life story by E. Randol Schoenberg, director Simon Curtis ("My Week With Marilyn") brings us a fascinating character study as an elderly refugee and an inexperienced young lawyer sue the Austrian government via the U.S. Supreme Court, for her family treasure.

We see:

  • * Helen Mirren ("RED") as Maria Altmann, an octogenarian dress shop proprietor who realizes she is the best person to tackle this issue. Mirren gives us a witty, determined character who is all too human.
  • * Tatiana Maslany ("Orphan Black") is the young Maria Altmann caught up in the turbulence of World War II. Maslany more than holds her own as she portrays the younger version of Mirren's character.
  • * Moritz Bleibtreu ("Munich") is Gustav Klimt the painter who captures the glowing beauty of Adele Bloch-Bauer, our eponymousWoman in Gold.
  • * Ryan Reynolds ("Chaos Theory") Randol Schoenberg is swept into the situation by his mother, but realizes the validity of Maria'sclaim. All he needs now is audacity (and another loan from his father).
  • * Daniel Brühl ("Rush") His character greets them in Vienna. He provides experience and tactics for their claim.
  • * Max Irons ("Red Riding Hood" - 2011) Fritz and Maria are forced into a headlong flight for their lives when the Nazis come to plunder their Viennese home.
  • * Katie Holmes ("Dawson's Creek") Pam is Randol's patient (and pregnant) wife. She comes to realize that this lawsuit is important and worth the sacrifice.

The breathtaking cityscapes of Vienna are worth the price of admission, as are the muted flashbacks which portray the elegant lives of affluent families in prewar Vienna followed by the subsequent brutality of the Nazis. Here we have people to root for and an issue that has, at its heart, the will to right a wrong done over half a century ago. Despite getting a bit soppy at times, this satisfying film is laced generously with humor and humanity. (Hotel clerk: "You're from Austria? My little girl loves Austria; she likes the kangaroos!")

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